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Poster: notonmywatchyourenot Date: Oct 15, 2004 9:36am
Forum: election_2004 Subject: “Democracy abhors undue secrecy”

“Democracy abhors undue secrecy”
by Steve Lawrence
Albuquerque and Santa Fe Crosswinds Weekly
14-21 October 2004

So, you’ve been surfing the Net, and looking at lots of Moslem-, Arab- and Middle-East related Web sites, including the Al Jazeera news service and some extremist Islam sites? Ummm, suspicious. Likewise, you’ve been checking out all those Anti-Bush books from the public library. Perhaps you should be investigated.

Name a country where law enforcement officials would be permitted to search your Internet and library records with no search warrant or judicial review even though you are suspected of no specific criminal activity. Further, in this same country, the library or ISP would be forbidden to tell you of the search. And, if by some chance you do find out and sue the government, all of the records in this case, in fact the entire proceeding, would be secret.

That country would be the United States of America. The law that has permitted such a gross and wholly unjustified violation of civil liberties is the PATRIOT Act, which President Bush insists is key weapon in the fight against terrorism. This, of course, is absurd.

Which is what New York Federal District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled the other day, when he struck down the PATRIOT Act provision that allows these Internet searches. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is also challenging the PATRIOT Act provision which allows library record searches under almost identical circumstances.

Until Judge Marrero’s decision, you had not heard much about either of these PATRIOT Act cases because the Act includes a gag order which prohibits anyone involved from disclosing anything about such searches. Judge Marrero also struck down the gag order provision of this PATRIOT Act section, declaring that “democracy abhors undue secrecy.”
The PATRIOT Act was hustled into existence by a dazed, fearful and bullied Congress, literally in the dead of night after 9/11. Most members of the Senate and House admitted later that they voted ‘yes’ without ever having read the document. They were assured by President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft that the law was crucial in the war on terror. Besides, its passage was great PR for a White House and Congress desperate to give the impression that they were actually doing something to make the country safer.

New Mexico Representative Tom Udall was one of the few who bothered to actually read the PATRIOT Act before its passage, and also was one of the few who voted against it. Rep Udall has said he was appalled by the unconstitutional violations of civil liberties in the Act. “It was clear to me, moreover, that it was wholly unnecessary for fighting terrorists,” he has said.

The U.S. District Court decided that Section 505 of the PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional. That section expanded the powers of an earlier federal law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. That law had authorised the FBI, on its own and without going to any court, to issue so-called National Security Letters to obtain information from wire communications companies about their subscribers. These NSLs were issued secretly and the recipient was forbidden to tell anyone about the request. The 1986 law authorized this secret investigation, however, only when someone was suspected of being a foreign agent.

That is troublesome enough. But the PATRIOT Act expanded this secret investigative authority to anyone the Justice Department decides is “relevant” to an investigation. Judge Marrero ruled that both the 1986 law and its “major revision” under the PATRIOT Act violated the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. He ruled, too, that the law’s gag order violates the Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech. “It is precisely times like these that demand heightened vigilance, especially by the judiciary, to ensure that as a people and as a nation, we steer a principled course faithful and true to out still-honoured founding values,” the Judge wrote.
The gag order which the Justice Dept insisted be enforced until the case was resolved, kept secret all documents in the case including the ACLU’s press release announcing the filing. The government insisted that the ACLU client’s identity be kept secret and that the ACLU be prohibited from disclosing a direct quote from a U.S. Supreme Court case cited in its brief. The quote said, “The danger to political dissent is acute where the government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in action to protect that interest becomes apparent.”

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero called Judge Marrero’s ruling “a landmark victory against the Ashcroft Justice Department’s misguided attempt to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans in the name of national security.”

In a remarkable attempt to mislead the public, the Justice Dept and the Senate Republican Policy Committee have tried to portray this sweeping decision as not affecting the PATRIOT Act at all. Justice and the Policy Committee tried to convince various newspapers that they had gotten it wrong by reporting the ruling as a blow against the PATRIOT Act because it also struck down the 1986 law.

The judge was, of course, quite specific in noting that the PATRIOT Act section was a significant, unconstitutional expansion of the government’s powers and, therefore, could not stand.

Who would swallow such an outrageously inaccurate interpretation of a court ruling? How about the Wall Street Journal’s editorial writers who have never seen a far right-wing position they didn’t like. As readers of this column know, I am a big fan of that paper’s news coverage. But its editorials, which are produced by an entirely different department, are, well, unreadable garbage. To be kind.

That ACLU suit produced a powerful ruling and a strong precedent that should also overturn the PATRIOT Act provision permitting unrestricted and secret library record searches.
The government, while insisting on the minimal impact of the District Court ruling, will no doubt appeal. Meanwhile, as one ACLU Attorney in the case, Jameel Jaffer, said, “Today’s ruling is a wholesale refutation of excessive government secrecy and unchecked executive power. As this decision suggests, certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act should never have been enacted in the first place.”

The 9/11 Commission concluded that a massive government intelligence failure was the primary contributor to the Twin Tower and Pentagon attacks and the deaths of 3,000 innocent people that resulted. There was plenty of law enforcement authority available at the time, sufficient to have stopped those terrorists. The PATRIOT Act is a useless and entirely unnecessary expansion of government power. The Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans are already seeking to expand it.

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Poster: jackgrimes2004 Date: Oct 18, 2004 7:42am
Forum: election_2004 Subject: Re: “Democracy abhors undue secrecy”

This has all happened before, this is exactly how Hitler started out in Germany. You'd be surprised how similar the USA PATRIOT ACT is to the "Emergency Powers Act" in the Constitution of The Weimar Republic, that Hitler invoked after President Hindenberg died, to gain complete control of the German Government.

Maybe it wouldn't be such a surprise if Americans studied History, and learned it's lessons. Bush is a Nazi as were his father and grandfather before him. All they need is one more "FAKE" Terror Attack like 9/11 to bring all the hidden clauses in the USA Patriot Act out in the open and enslave us all.

Bush has already started rounding up and torturing Arab-Americans, next it will be all the subversives (read truth-tellers turn to go to the Concentration Camps). You, the American people, had better stop Bush and his henchmen now, and you had better be ready to take up arms and fight and die if it comes to that to rid yourself of this dirty dog.